Year 2, Month 8, Day 8: Here’s Hoping My Kid Likes To Eat Jellyfish

The Boston Globe has a good editorial on a terrifying subject. The threatened oceans:

THE WORLD’S oceans provide a crucial environmental safety valve: The blue territory that covers 70 percent of the globe absorbs 80 percent of the heat we are adding to our climate, and about a third of carbon dioxide we are emitting into the atmosphere. A recent report by the International Program on the State of the Ocean, however, has found that the oceans may not be able to sustain these burdens much longer.

The report highlights a combination of factors that put us at high risk for, as the report puts it, “entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history.’’ The combined effects of overfishing, marine pollution, and carbon emissions are responsible for this basic fact: Our oceans are degenerating far more quickly than previously predicted. This has consequences not just for marine ecosystems and species, but also for humans.

Sent July 22, gloomily:

Considering that we lived in close interaction with the natural world for countless thousands of years, modern homo sapiens shows a disturbing level of ignorance of the environmental systems of which it is a part. The possibility that the planet’s oceans are entering a death spiral barely seems to be registering on most people’s radar; instead, we are preoccupied with gossip, trivialities, and short-term threats to our comfort. Attention, everyone! A collapse of oceanic ecosystems would not just be a temporary inconvenience, but a world-changing event of a magnitude far beyond our ken! Between oceanic acidification, overfishing, and pollution, we humans have inflicted enormous damage on the seas; if we don’t change our ways voluntarily, we will be forced to change them whether we like it or not. With a civilization struggling in the aftermath of catastrophic ecological implosions, we will have no alternative but to adapt or die.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 7, Day 6: La Mer? Merde!

The ghastly news in the IPSO report on our oceans has brought forth a number of articles. Time magazine notes:

But while news of the Earth’s impending doom can sometimes seem exaggerated, there’s one environmental disaster that never gets the coverage it really deserves: the state of the oceans. Most people know that wild fisheries are dwindling, and we might know that low-oxygen aquatic dead zones are blooming around the planet’s most crowded coasts. But the oceans appear to be undergoing fundamental changes — many of them for the worse — that we can barely understand, in part because we barely understand that vast blue territory that covers 70% of the globe.

That’s the conclusion of a surprising new report issued by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), a global panel of marine experts that met earlier this year at Oxford University to examine the latest science on ocean health. That health, they found, is not good. According to the authors, we are “at high risk for entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history.” It’s not just about overfishing or marine pollution or even climate change. It’s all of those destructive factors working cumulatively, and occurring much more rapidly than scientists had expected. “The findings are shocking,” said Alex Rogers, the scientific director of IPSO. “We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, our children’s and generations beyond that.”

Lots of stuff about the ocean now, but not as much as I get when I ask for information on Anthony Weiner’s junk. Sigh.

Sent June 21:

As a kid growing up in America’s turbulent 60s, I remember vividly a certain man on television who was universally respected and trusted. And I don’t mean Walter Cronkite. Reading about the IPSO report on the terrifying decline in the health of our planet’s oceans reminded me of the late Jacques Cousteau. Remembering the diminutive Frenchman who showed us all the beauties of the undersea world, I wonder: what would he say about the acidified seas, bleached corals, ravaged fisheries and polluted ecosystems that humanity has left in its wake? After a few unprintable Gallicisms, I’m sure he’d embark on an activist campaign to persuade the world’s industrialized nations that it was time for them to show genuine leadership on climate change and carbon emissions. Long ago this eloquent and passionate explorer spoke to our current condition, saying “We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.”

Warren Senders